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‘That's what she said!’ and Other ways not to start your cover letter (The Office edition)

Picture this: You're in the Dunder Mifflin paper company's Scranton branch. Amidst all the pranks, conference room meetings, and, well, more pranks, there's a lesson to be learned - the importance of making a lasting first impression. Now, while we wouldn’t necessarily take relationship advice from Michael Scott, when it comes to job applications, ‘The Office’ gives us some of the best and worst examples.

What is a cover letter?

At its core, a cover letter is like that epic movie trailer before the blockbuster film, which in this case, is your CV. It’s the appetizer before the main course; believe me, everyone remembers a good one! It gives potential employers a glimpse into the sequel of who you are beyond your resume's bullet points and IMDb-style headlines.

Imagine your CV is like the list of all the movies you’ve watched (or at least claim you've watched). On the other hand, the cover letter is that one memorable scene you can’t stop talking about at the water cooler (or, these days, on a Zoom call). While a CV states the facts — think film titles, durations, and star ratings — the cover letter dives into the reviews. Why did you watch those films, and why do you think 'The Office' (come on, we all love it!) is peak comedy?

Now, a cover letter isn’t just a highlight reel of your CV. Picture it as the moment in a sitcom when a character breaks the fourth wall, looking directly at the audience — that’s you connecting with the recruiter, sharing an inside joke, or a "Did Jim just look at the camera?" moment. It's where your achievements and bloopers, tailored to the vacancy, create a memorable impression.

Moreover, if your CV is the script, the cover letter is the director’s commentary. It demonstrates your communication skills and proves that you're not just another extra but the main character of your career story. In a world filled with reruns, your cover letter is that fresh new episode everyone’s been waiting for. And while qualifications are the season finales, employers love those unexpected plot twists and the behind-the-scenes tidbits you bring to the set.

So, to sum it up, if someone asks, "What is a cover letter?", just wink and say, “It’s the Jim Halpert smirk in a world of Dwight Schrutes.” Your cover letter is a handshake, a nod, and that knowing glance toward the camera, inviting employers to tune in for the next episode of your career.

Motivation letter vs. Cover letter

Okay, imagine you're binge-watching your favorite series, and two characters pop up — one is wearing a beet farmer's hat, and the other one a suit from Dunder Mifflin's finest. Now, even if they're from the same show, you wouldn't mistake Dwight for Jim, would you? In the professional world, the motivation and cover letters can sometimes seem as confusingly similar as Kevin's famous chili recipe versus a beet salad. But let's get one thing straight: they are as different as our beloved Dwight and Jim!

Motivation letter: The Dwight of Letters

  • Purpose: Often required for academic pursuits, internships, or volunteer work. It's where you get to explain why you're as passionate about a subject as Dwight is about beets or martial arts. It’s your moment to tell your chosen institution or organization, “Bears, beets, and this opportunity are my top priorities.”
  • Content: While Dwight might include detailed plans for Schrute Farms, this letter focuses on your motivations, passion, and alignment with the institution or program. It dives deep, just as Dwight delves into Battlestar Galactica theories.
  • Length: Typically longer than a cover letter. It's where you pour out your heart like Dwight explaining the merits of owning a farm.

Cover letter: The Jim Halpert of Letters

  • Purpose: When you’re aiming for a job and want to introduce your CV with a smirk and a wink. Your Jim-style camera glance shows employers you're the best fit for the job. While a CV gives the facts, the cover letter says, "Yep, that was me pulling that epic prank on Dwight.”
  • Content: More tailored to the specific position and company. It focuses on your skills, achievements, and experiences, like Jim's playbook of pranks.
  • Length: Short, sweet, and to the point, much like Jim's concise yet impactful comments.

To sum it up, a motivation letter is your inner Dwight shining through – it's about passion, dreams, and why you’d chase down that opportunity like Dwight chasing after someone who stole his stapler. On the other hand, a cover letter is your Jim moment, showcasing how perfect you are for the role and perhaps adding in a slight smirk as you highlight your achievements.

Remember, whether you're channeling your inner beet farmer or paper salesman, it's essential to be authentic. So next time you're drafting one of these letters, ask yourself: "Would this make Dwight give a proud nod or Jim flash his iconic smirk?"

The art of crafting the perfect cover letter

Crafting a cover letter is akin to devising the ideal prank – it demands planning, accuracy, and flair. Now, imagine your "cover letter for resume" as your ticket to Beetroot Acade 's elite club. Let's guide you through this, step by step.

Opening: The importance of grabbing attention

Your cover letter's opening is your first call to the recruiter. Make it count.

  • Tip #1: Start with a captivating hook. While balancing a Jell-O mold on your head is commendable, spotlighting a unique “achievement” or relevant experience might be more suitable for a "cover letter for work".
  • Tip #2: Customize it for the position. Don't send a generic "cover letter sample". Address the specific vacancy, and remember, a tailored cover letter can be as impactful as Dwight's title of "Assistant to the Regional Manager".

Body: Detailing qualifications without regurgitating the resume

Your resume showcases your skills. Your cover letter, however, dives into your knowledge and the content of your experience. It's like Jim's pranks – we know he's a prankster, but the details of each joke make the difference.

  • Tip #3: Use real-life examples. Instead of saying you're a great team leader, detail an instance where your managerial skills shone. Perhaps, a "cover letter example" where you lead a project or defuse a team conflict quicker than Jim could hide Dwight's stapler.
  • Tip #4: Demonstrate your research. Allude to something unique about the employer. A light-hearted company reference can make your "cover letter sample for a job" stand out, but avoid a Michael Scott faux pas of getting details wrong!

Closing: Ending with impact and leaving a lasting impression

This is where you seal the deal.

  • Tip #5: Include a call to action. Prompt them to peruse your "sample cover letter for resume", initiate an interview, or just ring you up.
  • Tip #6: Keep it concise. Your sign-off should leave a mark. Think of it as Jim's smirk after pulling off a prank.

In essence, your cover letter is your platform to dazzle and intrigue, making the recruiter want to dive deeper into who you are. And remember, just like the best pranks are those executed with care and precision, the best cover letters are crafted with thought and passion.

Profession-specific examples & templates

When crafting your cover letter, the content should resonate with the specific profession you're targeting. Much like Michael Scott's management style, a' one-size-fits-all' approach doesn't always hit the mark. Here's a breakdown for each major profession offered at Beetroot Academy:

UI/UX design


"Having gained solid experience in Adobe XD, I recently led a team to redesign a mobile app that improved its user retention rate by 20%. My skills align with Beetroot Academy's UI/UX Design course, where I honed my expertise."

Template Tip: Focus on user experience outcomes and design software expertise.

Project Management in IT


"As an IT project manager, I've successfully completed over 30 projects on time and under budget. Beetroot Academy's course instilled in me the knowledge to balance both tech and managerial perspectives."

Template Tip: Highlight a specific project achievement and mention any methodologies you're familiar with, like Agile or Scrum.

Front-end development


"Coding isn't just a skill; it's an art. From responsive design to seamless user interactions, my portfolio showcases projects I've enriched through Beetroot's Front-End Developmeprogram."

Template Tip: Mention specific languages or frameworks you're adept in, like React or Vue.js.

QA manual


"Ensuring software perfection, one test at a time. At Beetroot Academy, I learned the nuances of QA Manual, allowing me to spot and rectify over 500 bugs in the past year."

Template Tip: Speak about specific testing environments or tools you're comfortable with.

Python development


"Python is the language of the future, and with the expertise from Beetroot Academy, I've developed three applications that optimized backend processes for my employers."

Template Tip: Reference specific libraries or frameworks, such as Django or Flask.

Golden tips for a stellar cover letter

  1. First Impressions Count: Like Dwight Schrute's beet farm, your opening paragraph should be memorable. Make it count!
  1. Tailor-Made Approach: Don't use a generic cover letter. Customize it for the job and the company, just as you'd pick a specific episode of "The Office" for a particular mood.
  1. Showcase Achievements: List specific accomplishments instead of general duties. Numbers speak louder than words!
  1. Mirror the Job Description: Use keywords from the job vacancy. It's like mirroring the language of your favorite character; people will notice!
  1. Be Authentic: Write genuinely about your experiences and passion. No need to be the "World's Best Boss" — just be the best version of you.
  1. Skip the Regurgitation: Your cover letter isn't just a repeat of your CV. It's the storyline behind your resume's facts.
  1. Strong Closing: End with a call to action or express keen interest. The cliffhanger makes them want the next episode (or in this case, an interview)!
  1. Mind the Length: It shouldn’t drag on like a good sitcom. Aim for 3-4 paragraphs or half a page.
  1. Proofread, then Proofread Again: Spelling or grammar mistakes? That's like serving a bad batch of Kevin's famous chili. Avoid at all costs!
  1. Seek Feedback: Before hitting send, get a second opinion. Even Jim always had Pam to double-check his pranks!

Signing off with style

Crafting a compelling cover letter is an art. With guidance from Beetroot Academy and the insights shared above, you no longer paint on a blank canvas. This process is a blend of your professional narrative, achievements, and a touch of personality, all tailored to the position and organization you're targeting.

From distinguishing between cover and motivation letters to tailoring your application for specific roles, Beetroot Academy has equipped you with the tools to shine. Take a page from Jim Halpert's playbook: be genuine, be memorable, and always seize opportunities with style.

As you venture into the job market, remember the value of a tailored cover letter. Let your resume introduce your skills, but let your cover letter tell your story. So, when that dream job appears on the horizon, pair your CV with a standout cover letter. Think of it as your golden ticket, ensuring your application doesn’t get lost in the shuffle but stands out like a fan-favorite episode of "The Office."

Best of luck! And remember, with Beetroot Academy by your side, you're not just applying—you're making an indelible mark. Here's to ensuring your cover letters are always the "Dundie Award" of every HR pile!

Vlad Kremenchuck
Beetroot Academy blog author